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Newsletter of the

Charleston Audubon Society

November-December 2005

Bits & Briefs Worldwide Travel Birding Is

Bird Seed Pick-Up: Simon Thompson’s Business
If you ordered bird seed through our Fall
fundraiser, don’t forget that now is the time This Thursday, November 10, our speaker is world traveler, natural history
to pick it up. Your seed is available at the enthusiast and birder Simon Thompson. Simon has his own company out of
area Wild Birds Unlimited store that you Asheville, N.C. called Ventures Bird Watching and has led birdwatching trips
selected on the order form — in either Mount all over the world. He will give a program on travel and birding with lots of
Pleasant or West Ashley — thru Sunday, beautiful slides of birds.
November 13th. Contact sale organizer, Mike The business started 12 years ago in Tryon, N.C., and in the summer of
Hutchinson (h:884-7746, w:5293486, 1998, Ventures, Inc. became an independent entity under Simon’s ownership. if, for some Based in the Carolinas, he leads a wide range of popular day and weekend
reason, you’re unable to pick up your order. trip throughout the Carolinas, with a unique blend of birds, butterflies and
wildflowers. His company also offers a wide range of tours both within the
Special Thanks: United States and many other countries.
To the Chris and the Originally from Suffolk, England, Simon has lived in North Carolina for
folks at Wild Birds over 10 years. He has lived in Lebanon, Kenya, Yemen, and Ghana, where his
Unlimited for making interest in birds and natural history began. In addition to traveling exten-
our sale possible. sively in the United States, Simon spent six months in China studying cranes
and bird of prey migration as a member of the British “China CraneWatch”
No December Lecture/Meeting: expedition. Please join us for what is sure to be a rewarding talk.
Mark your calendar – we don’t meet for a (Please remember that our lectures have moved to Thursdays – still in the 2nd
speaker in December, so our next meeting at floor auditorium of the Charleston County Library, 68 Calhoun Street, downtown
the Charleston County Library will be on Charleston. We meet for a reception at 6:30 p.m.– and our meetings – which are
Thursday, January 12, 2006, when we’ll be free and open to the public – start at 7 p.m.)
joined by Jemima Parry-Jones from the
International Center for Birds of Prey in
Awendaw (details page 3). Bring Family and Friends to
And if the changes at the Bird of Prey
Center interest you, be sure not to miss our Cookout at McAlhany Preserve, 12/3
November 12 fieldtrip to tour their new
grounds and facilities (details page 3, register A Fall cookout at McAlhany Nature Preserve is a great chance to get out
with Steve 406-2061). and experience this wonderful property we own and manage, about an hour
from downtown in Dorchester County, near St. George. Be sure to learn
Inside This Issue: about its history and current state in the article on page two of this issue.
Our 3rd Annual BBQ and Pot-Luck at McAlhany will be held Saturday,
McAlhany Preserve: A Treasure . . . . . . . pg 2 December 3, 2005. People are asked to bring a dish, a salad or a dessert.
We’ll have some hot and cold drinks, and some burgers and ’dogs to throw
Operation Migration Needs You . . . . . . pg 3 on the grill. The gate will be open about 9 a.m. for folks who’d like to take a
FIELDTRIPS: walk, do some birding and see the progress on our native plant restoration
Int’l Bird of Prey Center . . . . . . . . . . Nov. 12 project. Everyone else is invited to arrive about noon: We’ll start the grill
about 1 p.m. and plan to eat about 1:30 p.m. You are welcome to BYOB.
Huntington Beach State Park . . . . . . Nov. 19 Don’t forget that family and friends are welcome!
If you’re planning to come, please contact Steve ( or
Grove Plantation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jan. 16 phone 406-2061) so we can get a reasonable head-count. Directions for
driving to McAlhany are on page two. And, if folks are interested we’ll have
a carpool/caravan leaving about 11 a.m. from behind the West Ashley Barnes
Bird of Prey’s Jemima Parry-Jones . . Jan. 12 & Noble (at Sam Rittenberg Blvd., and Hwy. 61).
2 The LESSER SQUAWK November-December, 2005

McAlhany Nature Preserve – A Chapter Treasure by Andy Harrison

How is the Charleston Audubon Society different from most The plan also calls for the planting of Atlantic white cedar
other Audubon chapters around the country? We own land – seedlings around the edges of the seasonally-saturated, former
two tracts, in fact. The McAlhany Nature Preserve (MNP) near farm pond site. After the seedlings have become established,
St. George, SC was the first property acquired by the Society. we will conduct prescribed burns in the smaller sections on a
Mrs. Cleo T. McAlhany donated the 318 acres encompassed by rotational or as-needed basis. Although we obtained some
the Preserve to our chapter in 1987 as a memorial to her hus- income from the harvest, the bulk of the funds (and technical
band, Marvin McAlhany. On December 19, 2001 we signed a support) for this work will come from the U.S. Fish and
conservation easement agreement with the Lowcountry Open Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program and
Land Trust to ensure that the land remains undeveloped and in the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Wildlife
a natural state. Land ownership carries with it the responsibili- Habitat Incentive Program. The SC Forestry Commission will
ty for land management, however. Although we visit MNP reg- also provide technical support. Projects like this are expensive,
ularly for field trips and open houses, over the years some nec- and we appreciate this assistance. Joe Cockrell deserves much
essary tasks were gradually discontinued because of lack of kudos from the chapter for his efforts in devising the restora-
labor or interest. Now, thanks to the leadership of Joe Cockrell, tion plan, arranging for the financial and technical support,
Chair of the McAlhany Committee, our chapter is renewing its and overseeing the initial stages of its implementation.
commitment to active management of the Preserve. One or a few people cannot bear the entire load for such a
Many of you who have visited MNP are aware of its great project, however. If it is to succeed we will need help from
natural beauty. For such a relatively small piece of land it more chapter members. Volunteers will be needed for sowing
includes an incredibly diverse array of habitats, beginning with seeds, planting trees, working on gates, brush-cutting, assisting
1.5 miles of frontage on the Edisto River and a nine-acre with prescribed burns, boundary line marking, and many other
oxbow lake. Some other notable features include: a mixed functions. In the early stages of the project the site will look
Mesophytic hardwood bluff (great for spring wildflowers); a pretty ugly, to be honest. The work will not be easy. But by
beech, magnolia and spruce pine hammock – a possibly unique maintaining this initiative, years down the road we will have
plant association; upland oak-hickory forest; bottomland hard- succeeded in making MNP even more valuable than it is now.
woods forest (including many acres along Cattle Creek); fresh- Visitors to the sections north of Wire Road will be able to
water marsh; a low water limestone outcrop; and of course the enjoy open, grassy wildflower fields set amongst tall stands of
cabin and picnic area near the lake. longleaf pines that gently whisper in the wind.
In addition to the forest communities, MNP has also har- McAlhany Nature Preserve is a treasure that our chapter
bored old fields on the parcel north of Wire Road. At times can take great pride in owning, but it also represents a huge
these fields were leased to a local farmer, other years we man- responsibility. There are immediate needs beyond those involv-
aged them for wildlife in an early succession stage, primarily ing the habitat restoration plan. For example, the cabin
by mowing. Later, nest boxes were erected and small numbers requires some major repair work – the roof leaks and the floor
of trees and shrubs were planted. But, the mowing of the on one side is settling and needs to be jacked up. The trails
fields stopped in the mid-90s, and they grew up in dense need to be improved and marked, and the road to the cabin
thickets of young loblolly pine and sweetgum – poor quality requires periodic clearing. Over the coming months (and years)
wildlife habitat. In February 2005 Joe introduced a plan for we will be asking for volunteers to step forward to help –
habitat restoration in these areas, including the establishment either on scheduled work days, or whenever possible. This may
of both grassland and longleaf pine communities. This plan also involve helping to complete wildlife surveys of the prop-
was approved by the McAlhany Committee and the Executive erty that were begun in the early years but never officially
Board, and implementation began this past summer. completed. Meanwhile please join us December 3 for our
The restoration plan is ambitious and will require a long- annual holiday cookout at the Preserve (see details on page 1).
range commitment from our Society. The first stage of the plan If you have never visited MNP before I think you will be
involved clearing the thickets of loblolly and sweetgum that impressed by what you see.
had overgrown the old fields (oaks and other hardwoods in
the fencerows, riparian areas and bottomland forest were not Directions to McAlhany: The McAlhany pre-
harvested). On our recent field trip to MNP (October 9, led by serve is located in upper Dorchester County on the Edisto
Richard Porcher), Joe showed the cleared areas to the group River, about an hour’s drive from downtown: Take Hwy.
and explained the next phases of the project. These included the 61, Hwy. 78 or I-26 to Hwy 15. Go to the small town of
construction of firebreaks and preparation of the site for planting. Grover which is about 10 miles south of St. George. Turn
Since our October visit the firebreaks have been completed, and west on Wire Road, cross over I-95 and continue for sev-
they subdivide the area into a number of smaller sections. eral miles and look for our signs on the left (the main
Various portions of these sections will be planted in longleaf pine sign is set-back somewhat, so look carefully.)
seedlings, native grasses, wildflowers and legumes (the central We’re having a picnic, December 3rd, so make plans
portions of three sections will be devoted to early succession now to come to McAlhany. (Cookout details page 1).
and grassland habitat surrounded by stands of longleaf pine).
November-December, 2005 The LESSER SQUAWK 3

Mark Your CalENdarS:

Upcoming Programs, Outings & Lowcountry Events

FIELDTRIPS & OUTINGS: ›› Huntington Beach State Park Trip such as the Red-headed Woodpecker and
›› Saturday, November 19, 7:30 a.m. American Bald Eagle here.
›› Visit the Int’l Bird of Prey Center Join Bob Chinn and Andy Harrison for Meet Andy at 7:30 a.m. Saturday,
›› Saturday, November 12, 8:30 a.m. a trip to Huntington Beach State Park. January 14 in the Food Lion parking lot
›› Please Call or eMail to Register This park’s variety of habitats – including in Ravenel. Bring binoculars/scopes, field
a freshwater lagoon, saltmarsh, maritime guides, water, food/snacks,
Join Steve Bleezarde forest, extensive beach and access to the sunscreen/insect repellent, and weather-
and Melissa Hughes jetty fronting Murrell’s Inlet – make it appropriate clothing.
on a morning tour of one of the best birding sites along the Register with Andy at 795-6934 or by
the Center in East Coast. It also is the site of Atalaya email at by Friday,
Awendaw. We’ll be Castle, former winter home and studio of January 13.
led on a tour of the new 152-acre site, American sculptress, Anna Hyatt
see over 100 raptors and owls in the Huntington, and her husband, Archer LECTURE SERIES, 2006:
newly constructed habitat enclosures, and Milton Huntington. There is a fee
given a raptor flight demonstration charged for admission to the park ($5 Thursday, Jan. 12, 6:30 p.m.
(weather permitting). adults; $4.25 seniors; $3 children aged ›› Jemima Parry-Jones
Once known as the South Carolina 6-15; free for kids 5 and under). ›› International Center for Birds of Prey
Center for Birds of Prey, and primarily Meet Bob and Andy at 7:30 a.m. Ms. Parry-Jones was the owner and
concerned with providing medical care to Saturday, November 19 in the Lowe’s Director of the National Birds of Prey
injured raptors, the International Center parking lot near Mt. Pleasant Towne Centre in England from 1982 until she
is now home to nearly 200 birds of prey Centre (behind IHOP). Bring binoculars/ moved with the bulk of the collection to
representing 78 species from six conti- scopes, field guides, water, food/snacks, South Carolina in November 2004.
nents. Once fully operational the it will and sunscreen/insect repellent. Good She came with 185 birds of prey of
combine medical care – including an oil- walking shoes are recommended. Even 70 species – ranging from Stellers Sea
spill rescue unit – with on-site education in November the weather can be quite Eagles to Burrowing Owls and in age
programs, captive breeding and ongoing variable – it could be warm, or cold and from six months to thirty years-old –
research and field studies. This trip is a blustery (especially on the open beach). along with six dogs and – literally – a
chance for us to get a look behind the Register with Andy at 795-6934 or by ton or more of equipment And you
scenes before the Center opens to the e-mail at by Friday, thought your last move was complicated
public next year. November 18. Her story fascinates us as much as the
Meet at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, November story of the center itself does. Come
12 in the Lowe’s parking lot near Mt. ›› Birding at Grove Plantation hear her speak about the 2004 trans-
Pleasant Towne Centre (behind IHOP). ›› Saturday, January 14, 2006, 7:30 a.m. Atlantic move, the 2005 quarantine, her
Register with Steve at 406-2061 (or by Join Andy Harrison for a day of winter life with birds before the move and
email at by Wed., birding at Grove Plantation, headquarters progress at the center’s new facility
Nov. 9 (we need an accurate count: if of the ACE Basin National Wildlife since.
our group is large, the center will split us Refuge. The Refuge is a haven for win- Learn more online:
in two). Bring the usual: H2O, guides, etc. tering waterfowl, and we often see birds ››

An Open Letter from Operation Migration:

Dear Friends, When this year’s twen-
Every season since 2001 Operation Migration and its part- ty bright-eyed whooping
ners have achieved a wildlife miracle. Using ultralight aircraft, crane chicks hatched we
we have taught a migration route to four generations of one had no idea what the events of 2005 would bring; a shortfall
of North America’s rarest birds, and last year 42 wild in grants and the doubling of fuel costs.
Whooping cranes migrated between Wisconsin and Florida. This Because this project has been such an amazing success, we
fall’s successful completion of a fifth migration will mean that thought that in addition to our long-time supporters, many
we are half way to our goal of removing this incredible bird new donors would rush to help. But with weather and other
from the endangered species list. This year however, Operation events elevating the need for support of many humanitarian
Migration is facing its biggest challenge ever, and we’re asking causes, it is understandable that aid to an endangered species
for your help. – see MIGRATION, page 4

The Charleston Audubon Society
P.O. Box 504
Charleston, SC 29402

The Charleston Audubon Society – a SC chapter of the National Audubon Society since 1970, founded as the
Charleston Natural History Society in 1905, and serving Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties – is a
nonprofit environmental organization that actively promotes awareness, appreciation and conservation of the
natural environment through educational programs, field trips, conservation projects, sponsored research and
social activities. Learn more online at

Birds of North America Online MIGRATION from page 3

may have been downgraded on many people’s giv-
The Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, together with the American ing list – or even left off entirely. As a result, we
Ornithologists’ Union, has recently released all 18 volumes of the Birds of find ourselves with the smallest ever amount of
North America (BNA) online. Following in the footsteps of Wilson, Audubon, funding to cope with the biggest and most costly
and Bent, BNA makes a quantum leap in information beyond what these his- year of the project.
toric figures were able to provide. This series provides detailed scientific At this point, with so many birds, higher
information (18 print volumes; 18,000 pages in total) for each of the 716 expenses, and soaring fuel costs, we can only get
species of birds nesting in the USA and Canada. the birds as far south as Kentucky/Tennessee
It’s $40/year for unlimited access to individuals. And that’s a great deal! before we run out of gas…both literally and figu-
Learn more online at ratively. For this reason we’re writing to solicit
your financial assistance.
The entire OM team is totally committed to the
New Members, Renewals, Gift Memberships Whooping crane project and the 2005 Migration.
For only $20* you get one-year subscriptions to Audubon Getting the 2005 cohort safely to Florida means
magazine and The Lesser Squawk, and all the benefits of the flock will be increased by a third! Whether
local and National Audubon Society membership. from a foundation, corporation or individual, your
Renew for just $35/year. *$15 for Sr. Citizens and Students contribution - small or large - is crucial to mak-
ing this happen.
PLEASE be as generous as you can, and be
THIS MEMBERSHIP IS FOR: assured your donation will help save a species.
ADDRESS ›› Our Society has donated $100 to help offset
rising fuel costs affecting Operation Migration
MAIL THIS COUPON AND YOUR CHECK TO: and we encourage our members to consider mak-
[ RENEWALS MUST INCLUDE THE 20-DIGIT MEMBER ing a donation of their own. Visit online to
P.O. BOX 51003
BOULDER, CO 80323-1003
Checks payable to National Audubon Society. Include our chapter code on your check: U-51 7XCH ››